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Morihei Ueshiba and Aikido

Morihei Ueshiba was born in the small port town of Tanabe (present-day Wakayama Prefecture) on December 14, 1883. Known as O-Sensei or "Great Teacher" to aikido practitioners worldwide, Morihei Ueshiba is credited with developing Japan's spiritual martial art. Having a weak constitution as a child, Ueshiba set out to develop his body and eventually became known for his great strength. Although exposed to various martial disciplines from an early age, Morihei Ueshiba's first formal martial arts study was with the Tenjin Shin'yo-ryu Jujutsu under Tokusaburo Tozawa in 1901 at age 17. Shortly after he began training, Ueshiba contracted Beriberi and was forced to leave Tokyo, returning home to Tanabe.

In 1903, Ueshiba enlisted in the 61st Army Infantry Regiment of Wakayama and served during the Russo-Japanese war. During the war, he began studying Goto-ha Yagyu Shingan-ryu Jujutsu from Masakatsu Nakai (from 1903 to 1908) and trained in Jukenjutsu (bayonet techniques). In 1911, he studied judo under Kiyoichi Takagi and in 1915 met Sokaku Takeda of the Daito-ryu.

Upon meeting Sokaku Takeda, Ueshiba devoted himself to learning the secrets of Daito-ryu and later became known as one of Takeda's most distinquished students. Much has been said of the connection between Daito-ryu and Ueshiba's aikido, but it has become quite clear that the main technical influence on aikido was the teachings of Sokaku Takeda.

Morihei Ueshiba was a devout student of Sokaku Takeda from 1915 to 1937 and received the following Daito-ryu scrolls: Hiden Mokuroku, Hiden Ogi, and Goshin'yo no te. In September 1922, Sokaku Takeda awarded Morihei Ueshiba with the Kyoju Dairi (teaching license) and a densho (transmission scroll) in Shinkage-ryu Heiho (sword).

Over the next several years, Ueshiba taught Daito-ryu under the watchful eye of Sokaku Takeda. In April 1931, Morihei Ueshiba opened the Kobukan dojo in Ushigome, Wakamatsu-cho, where he taught what he referred to as "aikibudo." In 1932, he co-founded the Dai Nihon Budo Sen'yokai in Ayabe with Omoto-kyo leader Onisaburo Deguchi. Becoming more influenced by the philosophical teachings of the Omoto religion, Ueshiba no longer referred to his martial art as Daito-ryu and began to identify his teachings with alternative names such as "Aioi ryu aikijujutsu." In 1933, Morihei Ueshiba accepted an invitation from Takuma Hisa to teach martial arts at the Asahi Shimbun located in Osaka. From 1933 to 1936, Ueshiba taught jujutsu at the Asahi Shimbun and referred to his art as "Dai-Nihon Asahi ryu jujutsu."

Eventually altering the teachings of Sokaku Takeda, Morihei Ueshiba went on to create a new martial art, grounded in the technical teachings of the Daito-ryu, but influenced by the teachings of Onisaburo Deguchi. In 1942 Morihei Ueshiba sent Minoru Hirai to the Dai Nihon Butokukai (The Greater Japan Martial Virtues Society) as a representative of the Kobukan dojo where the name aikido was established.